King Of The Badgers
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date:
- 29 March 2012
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-3 out of 3 reviews.
This is a sprawling epic novel centred around a North Devon village. It is a real page-turner, which reveals the surprising lives of many different characters and the connections - or disconnects - between them. We meet many different characters as the novel unfolds, from the family on the nearby council estate whose daughter disappears, to the retired couple newly-arrived from St Albans and desperate to make friends. There is a real sense of place and of time; you can believe in the independent high street with its local cheese shop, and the abstract art gallery run by a hedge-fund trader; there is also of course a Tesco supermarket just outside the town. There are themes woven in with a light touch - notably privacy, surveillance and the nature of community. Overall, I found this an enjoyable and compelling read.
The story begins in the supposedly quiet town of Hanmouth, with the disappearance of a young girl. What goes on to unfold about the lives of the inhabitants reveals that, behind closed doors, their lives are anything but!There are some good stories in this book, but it is rather disjointed and difficult to follow, the only connection between the characters that they all live in this town.
Philip Hensher is never anything other than an interesting writer and his perspective is bracingly different from the literary norm - essentially right wing and bourgeois, he writes about the society that Thatcher created, for good and bad, intentionally and unintentionally - sexual liberalism, in the form of a very sexually active circle of gay 'bears'; pruriant small town vigilantism; the demonised poor on their council estates; the church, small shops, surreptitious relationships, child abuse - they're all here, present and politically incorrect. This is a wide ranging novel with many strands of narrative - we have the sad gay, unable to break free from his physical self hatred; the aspiring middle class couple and child, all hiding secrets; the elderly ladies whose lives move in unexpected directions and the apparent catalyst, the abduction of a child. This is really about the rhythms of life and Hensher shows us parts of it that he knows and that often remain hidden.
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